From Steve Brown:
Recently, a friend of mine gave me an illustration
by Ron Hutchcraft regarding how some young people in Alaska learn about
Do you know what they do? When a child does something bad,
they put a rock in his or her backpack. When they do something good, they
take one out. The better they are, the lighter the backpack. On the other
hand, the backpack can become really heavy if a child is especially bad.
As I read that, I thought, I've been doing that for most of my life.
There was a time when I thought I could keep even by getting more of
the rocks out of the bag than I put in it. That was when I was younger.
Those were the days when I thought that if I could just get the rocks out
of my backpack I would be a fit and pure vessel for Christ to use. All I
had to do was work at it and then, once the task was accomplished, I would see "thousands saved and hundreds healed."
For years I was a rock counter. I spent most of my time checking the
backpack. I didn't notice that my legs were getting bowed and my back was
bending from the weight. I just kept trying to get the rocks out. I started
looking like a worn out cowboy. However, I found that, if you tried really
hard, you could keep your back straight so that people wouldn't notice.
But, man, it does take a toll trying to hide the fact that the backpack is
That's when God said: You know, you don't have to carry that backpack anymore.
What do you mean? I thought that was my purpose in life. Don't you want
me to be holy and obedient and stuff? This was your idea, not mine.
Wasn't my idea.
Don't you want me to be righteous?
That would be nice, but you're going about it all wrong. I don't know
if you've noticed, but the backpack is a lot heavier than it used to be.
If getting the rocks out of that backpack is your purpose in life, you're
not doing a very good job of it.
But I'm working hard.
You don't have to work so hard at it. In fact, you're spending half
of your life working on getting those rocks out of the backpack and you're
not living anymore. You're missing a lot of really good things I planned
for you. I would rather you just came to me. I can take care of the rocks.
That is what the cross was about.
You mean that you will take the rocks out of the backpack and make it
No, I don't want the rocks. I want the backpack.
What? You're joking, right?
No, I'm not joking. I don't joke about something this serious. I don't
joke about things that destroy people I love.
But, Lord, I've had this thing a long time. In fact, I've sort of grown
accustomed to it. Besides, if I gave you the backpack, how could I measure
whether or not I was pleasing you?
I'm already pleased...and it has nothing to do with the rocks or lack
of them in your backpack. Tell me, what would you do with your life if you
didn't have to spend all of your time working with those rocks?
I'm not sure. Maybe go to a movie or take a day off or something. I might
just be quiet and spend more time with you. Maybe even tell some people
about your kindness and love. I guess I would even tell them about this
Then, child, do it with joy...and give the backpack to me.
And that's how I got rid of the backpack...well, almost. The fact is
that I sometimes go to the throne and take it back. When I do that, I think
God shakes his head and blushes a bit. But I don't keep it very long anymore.
It's hard to dance with all that weight.
Paul wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who
are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according
to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1, NKJV).
The great thing about not being
under condemnation anymore is that the Spirit starts doing his work. In
fact, I'll bet if I started carrying that backpack again, it would have less
rocks in it than it used to have. Maybe not. But I'm not going to check.
He told me I didn't have to.
Did you hear the story about the old man with a heavy load in his sack,
walking down the road? A farmer came by in his wagon, felt sorry for the
old man and gave him a ride. The man climbed up on the wagon and thanked
the farmer. Then the farmer noticed that the man still carried the sack.
"Why don't you put that sack down?" asked the farmer. "It's
got to be heavy."
"You are so kind," the old man said. "But I wouldn't want
to impose on your kindness. You shouldn't have to carry me and the sack."
Silly? Of course it is. But it is no more silly than the way you carry
that dumb backpack around with all those rocks. Why don't you just let him
carry it all?